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US STOCKS-Wall St flat, investors look for new catalyst

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Tue, Jan 29, 2013 15:20 hrs

* S&P 500 hovers around 1,500; investors seek catalysts

* Ford tumbles after comments on European section

* Seagate and BMC weight on Nasdaq after outlooks

* Indexes: Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq down 0.6 pct

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were flat on Tuesday as investors looked for new reasons in economic data or earnings to extend a rally that pushed major averages near five-year highs.

Equities have been on a tear lately, with the S&P 500 recently climbing for eight straight sessions, extending its rise in January to 5.1 percent. The index hovered around 1,500, suggesting there was still support for a market that has been hovering around five-year highs.

"A move like this in one month is extraordinary, and keeping the gains going will depend on concrete news like earnings and data that show the economy is getting better," said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia. "We haven't seen enough of that to make people jump in after the rally we've had."

The gains have largely come on a strong start to earnings season, though results were mixed on Tuesday with Pfizer Inc rising but Ford Motor Co dropping after its report.

Both companies reported profits that topped expectations, but Ford also forecast a wider loss in its European segment. Shares dropped 3.6 percent to $13.32 as one of the biggest percentage losers on the S&P 500.

Pfizer, a Dow component, rose 1.2 percent to $27.16 after its results while Eli Lilly and Co rose 1.2 percent to $53.25 after reporting adjusted fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations.

In economic news, stocks retreated slightly after data showed U.S. consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in more than a year in January. Americans were more pessimistic about the economic outlook and their financial prospects, according to the Conference Board.

In addition, home prices rose 0.6 percent in November, as expected, according to the S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index. The news comes a day after data showed an unexpected drop in December pending home sales.

Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 150 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 67.3 percent have beaten analysts' expectations, which is a higher proportion than over the past four quarters and above the average since 1994.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 13.40 points, or 0.10 percent, at 13,895.33. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 1.01 points, or 0.07 percent, at 1,499.17. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 18.21 points, or 0.58 percent, at 3,136.09.

The Nasdaq was pressured by a pair of disappointing tech outlooks. Seagate Technology Plc forecast third-quarter revenue below expectations while BMC Software Inc gave a 2013 profit view that was below forecasts.

Seagate shares slumped 8.7 percent to $34.10 while BMC fell 7.8 percent to $41.

On the upside in technology, Yahoo Inc rose 1.2 percent to $20.55 a day after forecasting a rise in annual revenue.

The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee is due to hold two days of meetings on interest rates beginning on Tuesday.

In a sign of an improved view towards equities, investors poured $55 billion in new cash into stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly inflow on record, research provider TrimTabs Investment Research said.



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